Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford

NAVIGATION - SEARCH

Stay The Course - February 11, 2017

Over the past few weeks I have shard my thoughts on communication. After completing these posts it dawned on me that much of what I write about is behavior. In other words, since sales is all about human relationships, one’s behavior can influence the success rate in sales, but more importantly the success of the overall relationship.

 

Oftentimes sales people get a bad rap for what many define as deceptive sales tactics. There’s bait & switch, the “used car salesman approach”, or simply being dishonest. However, these are very few and far between. Regardless of the poor behavior displayed by the few, run with the many, and stay the course. You’re probably now saying, “what the heck is he talking about?”

 

Being a career sales person, I too have been insulted by a prospect or client who believed I was “up to no good” in my sales approach. I’ve even been accused of a bait & switch only to be vindicated by the client’s own employees. Honestly, and I don’t regularly use terms like this in my blog, but it really sucks. There is no worse feeling than being falsely accused simply by being a sales person. Being lumped together with the misbehaving sales people is simply not fair, but unfortunately is a part of the sales game. And so, based on advice given to me by my mentors many years ago, I work to stay the course.

 

There is nothing profound about this approach. Staying the course is simple, in fact so simple that many try to read into it, but finally come to realize how basic this ideal is in selling. Be honest with your client (prospective client), be honest with your employer, and be honest with yourself. There’s no need to scream this from the mountain tops: I AM AN HONEST SALES PERSON. Nope, you just need to live these words. And, when you are honest with your client, your employer, and yourself, you are in essence staying the course. You cannot become distracted in the sales process and the client cannot make false accusations (although they may try). Because, even when they do, your track record of honesty, combined with your excellent communication skills (including documentation) will shine through.

 

As children we’re all taught that honesty is the best policy. Sometimes, and really not too often, being honest will lead to tougher conversations. Your client may not want to hear the truth about their situation or current products (etc), but sugarcoating the situation or not being honest will steer them in the wrong direction and you have gone off course. It is better to be upfront and honest, to stay on course, so that there will not be false pretenses as to why the client is buying or why you are selling.

 

My last note is this…staying the course may cost you a deal or two over the course of your career, but trust me, it was meant to be. It is better for your client, your employer, and yourself to lose a deal based on honest selling tactics, then to win a deal on falsehoods. Those always come back to bite you in the butt.

Communication (Wrap-up): Be Kind - February 4, 2017

Over the past few weeks I’ve touched upon a few ways in which to deal with communication. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about communication between vendor and customer, husband and wife, or father and son (etc. etc.). Communication ultimately is about human relationships. Some of us are good at managing relationships, some are okay, and some people just struggle because they have flaws in their personality. As I wrap up my posts pertaining to communication I am reminded of advice from my father. Two simple words: Be Kind.

 

My father is an accomplished attorney and lobbyist. He has been involved in a series of mergers and acquisitions over his 45+ year career. He is an excellent negotiator. And with all of these attributes, his best advice for communicating with others, “kill ‘em with kindness”.

 

We can call it human nature or something similar, but when dealing with human relationships and communication, no one is perfect. That is just a fact. We all can be short tempered or lose our cool every once in a while, just ask anyone that has been married for more than a week. However, if you manage your career (or life) with these instances being the exception versus the rule, and you simply remind yourself to communicate with kindness, well then you are less likely to end up on the losing end.

 

I’ve shared my ideas about communication in documenting all of your notes and conversations. When delivering the information back to a client, do so in a sincere manner, that you’re just wanting to make sure everyone is on the same page, and not with an attitude that you are forcibly reminding them of what they are or are not buying from you. When you deal with an abusive client, by email or telephone, do not stoop so low as to attempt to match them with insults. There is no place for disparaging remarks in an honest and open relationship. Sure, there are times for constructive criticism, but not for criticism alone. Bite your tongue and be kind in your tone. Maybe the other person is just having a really bad day or received bad news about a loved one. Give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they’ll understand by you Not losing your cool that maybe, just maybe, they were out of line. And, when push really does come to shove, and the other person in the relationship has no sense of reason, your kindness will shine through in the form of professionalism. Again, no need to lower your standards.

 

Not to bring religion into a post, but I am reminded of the “Golden Rule” – treat others as you wish to be treated. If you want to be treated with respect than you need to treat that person with respect. If you wish to be treated with kindness than you need to be kind. And, when the other person doesn’t necessary abide by these lifelong rules, you will come out ahead, simply by being a better communicator and a better person.

Communication: Just The Basic Facts - January 28, 2017

Throughout my career, and actually well before, I’ve relied on the communication tactic known as Just The Basic Facts. No, I’m not referring to a Pink Floyd lyric, rather the approach one must use when dealing with communication confrontation. Stick to the facts and the truth will set you free (or something like that).

 

While my recent posts have been dealing with communication, I have been using a very recent and relevant example to emphasize certain points. It is an unfortunate recent and relevant example. A client who has no patience, does not understand how to manage her emotions, does not think, speak or write rationally, and who does not rely on any facts whatsoever.

 

As you may recall, I have taken extreme abuse from this client, something more than I’ve ever experienced in my 20+ year career. False accusations have been guiding her rants due to her lack of knowledge, her lack of understanding why she hired us in the first place, and her poor business acumen. It really is a shame because her former employee, the assigned project manager, was a true delight to work with and she was very knowledgeable.

 

Regardless of the ways in which I and my firm have been treated, I must remain steadfast in my communications, since she still is considered a client at this time. Sure, I could raise my voice, or I could throw vulgarity her way in an email. What would that get me? Nothing. Instead, I’ve maintained my composure (see last week’s post), and I have buried her in facts. Facts cannot be disputed. The facts are documented in a legal and binding agreement for which she signed. The facts of what was and was not included in her specific project were witnessed and documented by others in her own organization as well as my own. Facts are facts whether she likes it or not. And, because we deal in just the basic facts, she can only use her foul mouth to attempt to sway us into believing she is right about any of our business dealings. Again, I say, what a shame.

 

Sales is a fantastic profession and one I am proud to be a part of. Like any chosen profession though, there are up’s and down’s. I’ve tried to mitigate the down’s. Occasionally, there may be a dispute between a company and customer, between a boss and an employee, between two employees, between parent and child, or between spouses. Getting angry and venting may occur, even in the best of situations, but when you manage emotion, keep your composure, and work on just the basic facts, both parties will come to an amicable understanding. When the one side doesn’t want to work with facts or simply does not believe in facts, well then they unfortunately lose.

Communication: Maintaining Composure - January 21, 2017

Sales, regardless of product, service or industry, is about human relationships. And, we all know human relationships can be complicated, just ask any married couple. There are times when relationships are pure bliss (aka the honeymoon phase). Then there are times where the relationship feels strained, that no one is listening or willing to talk, just scream and yell. Naturally in a professional environment you’d think no one would stoop so low as to scream and yell, but human emotions can take control of the most level headed individuals at times.

 

I promise, the timing of the example for this post is purely circumstantial, it really is. I’ve been planning this post for a few weeks as I’ve been attempting to answer questions and concerns from private clients and colleagues, but this very real example just happened yesterday. And, I have a feeling this may become an example for upcoming posts as well.

 

When I look back on last week’s post about record keeping and sharing, and then I dwell on a telephone call with a client yesterday, I am baffled by how ridiculous some so called professionals act. I’ve been thinking to myself, if they act like this toward me, just imagine how they treat friends, family or employees. It seems my client, after terminating her employee who was a project manager, now has no recollection of why she hired my firm. To make matters worse, even though I documented the sales process in terms of notes, summaries, and a detailed proposal, she is now claiming that we are not delivering what she wanted to buy. Unfortunately, I cannot turn back the clocks and ask her to be more active in conversations, instead of relying on her very talented and knowledgeable project manager.

 

On a review call yesterday, she screamed and yelled. She called me names. She called my company names. She called my employees names. She acted out as if throwing a temper tantrum. She screamed and yelled for nearly 25 minutes before allowing me to utter any sentences. I must say, with over 20+ years in my career, this takes the number one spot on my list of Did That Really Happen In Business list.

 

Now, for those of you that know me, you’d probably think I gave it right back to her. I tend to stand my ground with my held high, but I am also rather blunt. When push comes to shove, I will push back. I believe it to be an appropriate position when being confronted with falsehoods, lies and accusations. But, in reality, these are words. Words may sting a bit, but will only hurt if they are true. If they are not true, well then they are just words.

 

Maintaining one’s composure is the right thing to do, not just in this scenario, but always. You can and should push back when pushed, but with composure. Keep your head on straight. Don’t lose your cool. Do not lower yourself to meet the behavior for which you are being treated. And, no matter what, do not scream and yell back. Keep your composure.

 

I simply asked my very angry and unreasonable client why she was yelling at me. I wanted to know if she recalled the details of multiple conversations throughout the sales process. I very calmly asked if she had been involved in meetings since signing the contract. I gently pushed through a series of questions if she remembered assigning her own employee as project manager and instructed us to work directly with this person. It is a real shame that some people cannot separate emotion from business. It is my hope, always my hope, that when these types of situations occur (even if only once in 20 or so years) that people will breath deep, calm down, reflect on the sales process and what they were purchasing, and then be open to conversation and collaboration versus, as in human relationships, divorce.

Communication: Keeping & Sharing Conversation Records - January 14, 2017

Note: Over the next few weeks my posts will cover various topics around communication. I have been asked by a few personal clients and colleagues to answer their questions or comment on their concerns. So, here we go:

 

By now you’ve certainly read about having solid communication skills whether you’re a seasoned sales vet or a newly minted college grad. But, being able to verbalize clearly or give an A+ presentation to a huge audience is not all that is needed in the area of communication with a client or prospective client.

 

There’s one issue that tends to creep into the sales process more than you can imagine: the client (or prospective client) hears only what they want to hear and not entirely what you’re saying. Sometimes you’ll have a client (or prospective client) that will be open to you gently correcting their “misunderstanding” and then there will be times when you are the devil, as in how dare you tell me I’m wrong. This is where keeping and sharing records with your client (or prospective client) pays off.

 

I’ve taken some sense of pride over the years in both my ability to be an effective communicator and I believe this has to do with how I obsess on keeping written communications with clients as much as verbal. For all the times that I, and many other sales managers-coaches-trainers, have said that a sales rep cannot rely solely on email, that one must be able to communicate face-to-face and over the telephone, there is still always a place for email (or print). Typically, this tends to come into play when you want to ensure your notes are on track with the client (or prospective client). It can be something as simple as a note with a few bullet points asking, “are my notes from today’s meeting accurate, just want to make sure”. Or, it could be something slightly more formal as in a summary sheet typed, printed and delivered (email or face-to-face), highlighting the previous conversations so as to again ensure accuracy before committing to a formal proposal or contact.

 

Now, I must admit that this tactic is not full-proof. There have been times when I’ve gone above and beyond the norm to provide summaries in email or hard printed and the client still comes back months later to dispute a detail in the “wait I thought I was getting X but you sold me Y”. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I’m still a believer that sharing your notes, dropping a few emails back, or even the printed documentation is a great way to cover your butt…you are also covering the clients (or prospective clients) butt too. Keeping records and sharing records keeps you and the client on track, on the same page, and ultimately helps ensure the project, service, or product is what you said it would be.

Treat The Janitor The Same As The CEO - January 7, 2017

There are a lot of sayings, new and old, along the lines of treating the janitor the same as you’d treat the CEO. For example, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you; or never judge a book by its cover. While nothing here is overly profound, and you’ve likely heard them a thousand times, they tend to ring truer than ever as we enter 2017, especially for sales people.

 

We’ve become a rather relaxed society in terms of business etiquette and business attire. More and more we find companies moving to a casual dress code, and with this dress code, there also tends to be a more casual atmosphere in the office. Many companies today have gone to a condensed work week, employee-favored work from home policies, and in some cases unlimited time off. Obviously with these types of environments and policies in place, employers have increased trust in their employees. One must be trusted to get their work done, otherwise they may not last too long.

 

There are two sides to my post this week. The first is how you should treat others in this type of environment while the second is how you need to act if you too wish to be treated like the CEO.

 

As we enter 2017 and the relaxed business climate seems to becoming more frequent, this does not in any way, shape or form mean you can be relaxed when calling on a prospect or client. Regardless of “their” environment there is still an expectation of professionalism for “you” when calling on them. Being casual can mean a lot of different things to different people. You don’t necessarily need to be in a suit & tie when calling on a company that allows shorts & flip-flops in the office. But, a sense of professionalism should withstand the casualness in front of you, so I would recommend khaki’s and a golf shirt, as an example.

 

When you engage others in conversation or when you are approached at a networking event, you should be mindful that you never know who this person is or what position they hold. Moreover, it is a basic approach to human decency that you should respect others, but selfishly you should also be mindful in a casual society that the woman in the t-shirt and yoga pants meeting you for coffee may be the chief marketing officer that you’ve been trying to get in front of for 6 months.

 

Being mindful of these old sayings kept me on my toes recently. During the Christmas holidays I met with a few friends for lunch. Joining us was a “friend of a friend” and so I thought nothing of him joining the group. We were all calling it a half-day in our respective organizations so we could have a beer or two. Knowing we’d all be coming from work, it didn’t surprise me when some were in suits and others were business casual. However, the friend of a friend was wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and a baseball cap. He looked as though he just rolled out of bed and rushed to meet us. Turns out he was taking the day off and doing a little shopping. Oh yeah, he’s the CFO for a global Fortune 100 company. The moral of this little story: don’t judge a book by its cover.

 

And then there are those out there who don’t want to be judged either by the appearance. It may be they can be casual or required to dress up. They may be younger by age in an older working environment. My advice to you, those that fall into this group, is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. Be patient and relax. Do not try to force yourself into a work related social setting just to be included, instead be patient and wait to be invited. Most importantly be yourself. Do not put on an act and attempt to be something you are not simply to gain popularity, respect or to garner another’s attention. If you are a janitor and wish to be treated as an equal to the CEO, be a decent human being, and always treat everyone you encounter as if they were the CEO.

Reflection Over Resolution - December 31, 2016

I’ve talked and written about New Year’s resolutions in the past. They are generally not for me. I understand the meaning behind them, the fresh start to the calendar year, and the opportunity to begin anew. I get it, I really do. However, I still believe that what you promise yourself and others through a New Year’s resolution are things you should be doing all along.

 

Think for a moment about all the times you or another that you know say, “my resolution for this year is to lose weight and be healthier”. Or, how about this one, “my New Year’s resolution is to be a more patient person, not lose my temper so quickly, and to be willing to hear others out before infusing my opinion”. Again, why does the flip of the calendar push us to make resolutions. More so, why do so many make these resolutions based on in-the-moment emotion. Take for example the idea of losing weight and being healthier. The jokes are abundant on this topic because people are coming off a glutinous holiday time where they ate and drank as they pleased and now feel guilty about the pounds they put on. Beyond this situation, many cannot relate the idea of their desired weight loss and healthier lifestyle to other factors, such as their blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels, stress factors, etc. It’s the New Year and this seems like a doable resolution.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, like I stated before I do get the idea of a New Year’s resolution. But, I believe more in using this time for reflection. Beyond choosing an item or two of change arbitrarily and calling it my New Year’s resolution, I take time throughout the holiday season to reflect on the good things that have come my way. And with the good, so too must I reflect on the not so good. It is through my belief in reflection that I will strive to be a better person – husband, father, manager and sales person. Reflection will point me toward being a better version of myself where a resolution will likely address one small factor. How can I better the whole versus just a part?

 

Most of the time when I debate someone on the topic of reflection over resolution the typical response is I am aiming too high. Really? I generally win the debate when I use the weight loss resolution example.

 

Other: My New Year’s resolution is to lose 15 pounds and get healthier.

Me: Why?

Other: Because I’ve put on a few extra pounds and I want to get thinner.

Me: Why?

Other: Because my pants are starting to fit a little snug and I need to lose weight.

Me: Why?

Other (becoming frustrated): What do you mean why, I just told you.

Me: Ok, but what will you losing 15 pounds do for you?

Other: Kevin, are you dense, I just said I’d be able to fit into my pants better.

Me: Oh, ok. (And then I walk away)

 

A short time later, still frustrated, Other stops me at the New Year’s Eve party and wants an explanation on just exactly what I was getting at by continuing to ask the question Why. This is where reflection comes into play. You said you wanted to lost 15 pounds because your pants were starting to fit snug. However, you never explained how you gained the 15 pounds in the first place. Did you indulge in a few too many craft beers? Did you stop exercising all together? Is there a medical concern your doctor found that caused you to gain weight? Are you under stress at work? Are you having marital issues? Is a family member facing an illness? All of these questions can point to the trigger that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Reflect upon the year past and consider the reasons or the factors that played into the weight gain. Then, should you still want to call it a resolution, layout a roadmap for losing the 15 pounds while addressing the root cause(s) of the weight gain initially.

 

Translating this into my sales career, I too have put on a few pounds over the past year, and I plan to lose the weight. I’ve been working toward becoming a more patient man, but I have a way to go. I consider myself a good husband and father, but can be a little short tempered at times. I enjoy craft beers, good bourbon and I love to cook, yet I may overindulge from time-to-time. I try to be a faithful man in my religious beliefs, but I’m far from what I would call ideal. I know I can do a better job on my attendance record at church. I like to read, try to read for enjoyment, but oftentimes make easy excuses to skip that book I’ve had sitting on the shelf for 10 months. Addressing these types of things will make me a better sales person because they will make me a better person overall.

 

Reflecting upon my shortcomings will lead me into the process of laying out a roadmap for addressing each item. You may call these resolutions; I call them reflection points. What’s the difference? Going back in this post a little bit, resolutions tend to be statements made when the calendar year flips. I’m going to lose weight! I’m going to work on my patience! I’m going to be a better husband, father, manager and sales person! And, while these statements have power, they lack the game plan.

 

My advice as I close out the calendar year 2016 is simple. Find some alone time with a notebook. Jot down your thoughts or statements as if you were making resolutions. Then ponder each and ask yourself Why. Why is this a resolution? How did I get to this point of making it a resolution? What were the causes throughout the past year that have come to a head now? Once you’ve written down the various items you would call resolutions, have reflected upon the reasons why they are resolutions, then and only then will you be able to draw your roadmap for accomplishing each. Oh yeah, one more point, be realistic. Unless you starve yourself, you won’t lose 15 pounds in a month or two. Realistically, you’ll lose that 15 pounds in five to six months and become healthier along the way. Reflect and plan accordingly. Happy New Year – I hope 2017 is a safe, enjoyable and successful year for you.

I’ve Been Sold: A Major Purchasing Experience - December 24, 2016

We have all made major purchases in our lives. Homes, cars, boats, vacations, etc. all come to mind. Some purchases can be pleasant experiences while others can be more burdensome. Then there are purchases that, regardless of the price tag, were excellent buying experiences. Here is a personal example of one such buying experience.

 

Taking a step back, allow me to explain how I came to making a major purchase. My wife, kids and I like to travel. Living in the Cleveland area can sometimes get old, especially when the weather is gloomy for long periods of time, so we try to visit Florida once or twice per year. Occasionally, because we also like to ski, we’ll take a trip to Pennsylvania or New York or once in a while out West to Utah. What it really comes down to is spending quality time as a family away from the daily routine.

 

So, this past week we went to Southwest Florida to sit on the beach, get away from the cold of Northeast Ohio (especially since we’ve already had one major snow storm), and to give the kids a little break from school. My wife and I also had the idea that we’d check out the timeshare program that a few friends are a part of that offers national and international travel opportunities. Well, be didn’t just check it out, we bought in.

 

The sales process started when we arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the representative that would set up our buying experience. She applied no pressure whatsoever and instead offered guidance on the process. Everything was set, from the car service, to childcare, all down to the minute. I was already pleased with the process, but then it got better.

 

As a career sales person myself there are certain attributes that stand out when I am being sold. None could be more important than knowing who you are meeting with and being prepared. Now, we were not made aware of who our sales rep would be, but Roger knew who we were. Sure, I had completed a questionnaire with some basic information on myself, my wife, and my family, but Roger did more homework. He was assigned to me because the support staff read my LinkedIn bio and he was more of a match than the other sales people in the organization. Like me, Roger had moved a few times early in his career, then became a successful business owner through his sales skills, all before retiring to Florida.

 

Roger doesn’t have to work, but his wife doesn’t want him sitting around the house either. Because he was successful before retirement there is a certain amount of pressure removed from his sales approach. The (very positively) lack of pressure combined with the homework he did before I came through the door immediately brought my guard down and I was much more open minded to the sales process.

 

What impressed me more about Roger was his relaxed nature. I could hear other sales people at times and they were a bit more animated. Everyone I met seemed nice and professional. But, it was Roger’s approach that sold me. He knew his product and he knew how it would match my family. He knew buying into a timeshare program would be a major investment for me and he was prepared to outline various buying options. He wasn’t afraid to acknowledge when he did not have an answer to a question, rather he did the homework right then and there, or he brought someone into the meeting who had the answer. Most importantly, he knew how to be a professional sales person, which put my mind at ease.

 

There is something to be said about being prepared, doing your homework on your customer, knowing your own company/product/service, and carrying yourself in a truly professional manner. It means you can sell to a career sales person and they will enjoy the sales process. Thank you, Roger. Now I’ll start planning my next vacation.

Time To Leave The Nest - December 17, 2016

Okay, I must admit, the title for this week’s post is a little odd for a sales related blog. But, I’ve been reading several pieces recently about kids preparing for college. While I still have a couple of years before my oldest takes off, I have friends whose kids should be receiving their college acceptance letters soon. And, a few of the pieces I’ve read recently talk about the old idea of leaving the nest. You’ve done your best as a parent, provided guidance, and now it is time for your children to prepare to be on their own.

 

In much the same way there comes a time when the torch of sales management needs to be passed along. It should go without saying that you don’t promote someone into a management role and abandon them, but like the parent, you should guide to the point where they can leave the safety of the nest and be on their own.

 

I’ve been quite fortunate over the course of my career to mentor younger sales people toward success. Whether in a big brotherly way or as a manager, I’ve always tried to instill certain values in my sales people, so they too can appreciate being career minded sales professionals. Every so often I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and guide others into management roles. Some of these individuals have gone on to greater success than my own while a few weren’t necessarily cut out for being in a management role overseeing others. How do you know when the time is right to encourage the new sales manager to leave the nest?

 

I have been working closely with a freelance client over the past month while at the same time facing this situation directly. I’ve been able to use my own, direct experiences to help guide my client. It is almost one year since I promoted a senior level sales person to the role of VP of Sales. Similar to my client, I was much more day-to-day hands-on, and recently have backed off. In essence, I went from being turned to almost every day of the week for guidance, to now being utilized for 30 minutes once per week for a simple review session. The time has come that he leaves the nest.

 

I’m certainly not implying that he is or should leave the organization. Quite the opposite in fact. My VP of Sales, like the sales manager at my client, has achieved a level of success that confirms we made the right promotion decisions. However, what I am inferring is my VP of Sales no longer needs me to be his day-to-day (or even once per week) supervisor, but instead he can now stand on his own, make his own executive level decisions, and grow into a mature (seasoned) sales manager.

 

The signs have been there for some time. I could see his maturity growing for months as each sales opportunity was getting bigger and more complex. The key to where we are now is the ability to manage his own sales while mentoring others. It is a balancing act to say the least. A truly competent and successful sales manager is someone that can juggle their own calendar while assisting others in their sales efforts. It does not come easy and requires a lot of patience. But, once this milestone is reached and maintained for a few months, then and only then are you ready to leave the nest. Sales management skills are in place and it is time to increase responsibilities. 

More From The Old Movie Post - December 10, 2016

Last week I ended my post with a question: how do you guide a millennial sales person toward success? I expected a few answers, but I was overwhelmed with responses. It took only a day or two to receive emails, voicemails, and a few conversations by phone, but many evenings compiling the feedback. Here’s what I’ve got in summary format.

 

First and foremost, having heard from a few millennials on this topic, they don’t want to be lumped in under one umbrella. The term millennial has been getting a bad rap a bit these days. Those that reached out to me, by age fall into this category, but they are far too eager and aggressive for success to be lumped in with the rest. They, like others I’ve talked to, prefer to be referred to as younger sales people.

 

Second, what seems top-of-the-list for both the younger sales people and those above them in management is the expectation of instant success (aka a sense of entitlement). It seems many of the comments I received were concerned about not necessarily “paying dues” or “coming up the ranks”, rather the younger sales people with a sense of entitlement wanted success, but expected it to come much easier. They, in essence, were open and willing to cutting corners in sales processes in order to get the customer to say yes.

 

In the digital era we’re in, with marketing via electronic media at your fingertips, it would seem many younger sales people believe it should be easy to obtain a lead, a prospect, and ultimately a client. I, myself, have been in an engaged review of inbound versus outbound marketing. Many younger sales people believe inbound marketing is the answer to becoming a wildly successful sales rep, but they forget that regardless of whether the lead comes to you or you to the lead, you must understand how to correctly and professionally communicate, foster a relationship, and meet (many times face-to-face) with the prospect in order to gain the needed trust for the prospect to buy.

 

I referenced having done reading and research on millennial employees. In almost all cases there is a sense that millennials want success, are willing to work hard/smart, and at the same time want a work-life balance. The downside is again, the expectation or sense of entitlement that is displayed behavior, and sales managers are becoming frustrated. In sales, in particular, there can be an extensive amount of training required to fully understand a service or product. Each company has “their way” of selling and going to market. Younger sales people must understand and grasp the concept that sales is not a 9:00 to 5:00 position. I recently witnessed a fairly successful, younger sales person state he's yet to work more than a 40 hour work week. It is typically 40 (or less). Yet, this person is seeking guidance on how to tackle additional responsibilities, and grow their book of business. Younger sales people must realize that nights and weekends can become opportunistic times for reading, researching and planning.

 

And finally, even when incredibly well educated and bright, many younger sales people lack respect for those that have gone before them. Sales today is not much different than sales 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Human interaction and relationships can be complicated no matter what product or service you sell. Understanding how to engage in conversations, read body language, gain perspective into what may drive the buying decision, etc. all comes with age (ie experience). All too often the complaint with younger sales people is their lack of willingness to learn from superiors.

 

Success can come easily at times, quickly at times, and when one least’s expects it. Quick hits can be a nice, albeit, little boost to your confidence and revenue goals. Sustainable growth, which leads to a sustainable sales career, comes through patience in process, a genuine willingness to learn, an understanding that you may not be the smartest person in the room, and a desire to want the long-term, sustainable sales career, not just a quick buck.

 

Young sales people are the future of the profession. For the few out there willing to take the cautious yet necessary steps, methodically one-by-one, the sustainable and successful career is yours for the taking. For that younger sales person seeking the shortcut, with the sense of entitlement, do us all a favor now and find a different career path.